In 2016, DC Comics brought to life Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s classic graphic novel–Batman: The Killing Joke. There was excitement in the air for the animated adaptation of this amazing story. I imagine that the excitement fizzled out quickly after people watched this movie. Warner Brothers’ Animation couldn’t quite catch the magic of the graphic novel. Mark Hamill couldn’t save this film with his exhilarating performance as the Joker.
The filmmakers add thirty minutes worth of scenes that focus on Barbara Gordon/Batgirl for the sake of the plot. In the original graphic novel, Barbara Gordon does play a key role in the book, but she’s not a main character in it. The book is mainly about the deadly relationship between Batman and Joker. The movie makes Barbara feel like the protagonist of the movie, then abandons the concept. It feels like an attempt to make viewers care about her more before the scene where she’s shot in the spine happens. In reality, the scenes degrade her. They have an awkward romantic subplot where Barbara has a crush on Batman/Bruce Wayne. The crush leads to an unnecessary sex scene between Barbara and Bruce that isn’t needed. If anything, it just hurts her character more.
In regards to the acting, Mark Hamill (Joker) and Tara Strong (Batgirl) put on the best performances. Kevin Conroy (Batman) sounds boring with his take this time around. Conroy does a great job with the final sequence in the film where Batman laughs at a joke that the Joker tells. Otherwise, he’s phoning it in. Hamill shows his range as the Joker during the scenes where Joker’s seen as a petty criminal before the accident that turns him into the clown prince of crime. It is weird, but exciting to see Hamill play Joker with a more serious tone. Tara Strong is bold as Batgirl. She gives Barbara plenty of emotion when the character needs it.
This film could have been better than what it was. Instead of adding these Batgirl scenes, I feel like they could have added scenes to go more in depth with the rivalry of the Joker and Batman. That’s what the original book is about is how far is this rivalry going to go. The graphic novel deserves a better adaptation. Maybe there will be another attempt in the future.
Overall rating: 2.5/5.